Becki O’Grady: The club director who made history
But surprisingly, she is the first female to take on the the role since the club was founded in 1900.
I chatted to Becki about why it’s taken so long for her club to have a female director, and how golf can become more female-friendly…
Were you surprised that you got elected?
I honestly couldn’t believe it, it’s just fantastic. I didn’t expect it just because it’s never happened before. Other ladies have been put up to go to the board but they haven’t been voted on. I obviously wanted it, but I tried to prepare myself not to be too disappointed if I didn’t get it.
Do you think it’s a historically significant move?
It’s very significant for women’s golf, especially as we are trying to bring it in line with the men’s in terms of equality. We’re trying to bring the men’s and the ladies’ sections together and this is a step towards achieving that.
Do you think the game is becoming less male-orientated?
I think so. It’s definitely changed since I joined Howley at 16. Years ago it was very male orientated and ladies’ golf was sort of a second thought for most people. But in recent years it has become more equal. More established and well-known golf clubs are becoming more forward-thinking and ladies are getting involved a lot more.
What else do you think needs to change in ladies’ golf?
I would like to see the tees ranked on handicap and ability, not on gender. I know they’ve been introducing this in America and I’d like to see more of that come into our game.
After all we’ve got really good female golfers who can hit it just as far as the men. We are penalised a little bit, men never want to play off the red tees.
If this changed then it would be just one game that everyone can play. It would be down to ability then rather than if you’re a man or a woman.
What are your responsibilities as club director?
I’ve been put on some of the sub-committees. One of them covers the greens so I’ll have a lot of input from a ladies’ perspective on the set up of the course.
I’ve also been put on marketing, so that will involve promoting the club and looking at how we can get more people to come and visit.
I’ll be looking at how we can make the club more attractive to non-golfers and how we can encourage them to take part in social events and things like that.
Will the position take up a lot of your time?
It will take up some of my time but as I work full time for West Yorkshire Police I’ll have to fit it in around that. I have to balance my time at the moment anyway with playing and practicing so much. But as I work shifts it won’t be too much of a problem.
Do you think it will involve more work than when you were lady captain in 2016?
I’m not sure really. As captain you are the frontal figure of the ladies’ section and you need to be at all the events. But with this there’s just certain things you need to do, and you’re consulted a lot on different issues. So I don’t think it will take up as much time. But when the season gets in full flow that might change.
Is there anything you want to change as director?
I’d just like to make the club and the ladies’ section as good as it can be and make it a desirable place to come and play. That was my aim as lady captain as well. I’ve been a member for 20 years and I just want other people to enjoy it as much as I do.
What do you like most about golf?
Oh just everything! Golf runs through my veins really, a lot of people say that to me. The competition, the skill level that comes with it, and practicing all the different techniques.
I also love the events and being part of a team. I like seeing people achieve things as a team.
What has been your greatest golfing achievement?
My main achievement is probably being lady captain and being on the board. I’ve played for Yorkshire and I’m lucky to be able to play with some of the best players in the county and still do things at club level.
I took part in the American Golf Long Drive Championships last year and I am again this year. I hit it 271 yards in the regional final.
Are men ever shocked that you can hit it so far?
Yeah, a lot of people do comment on it. I think there’s a stereotype that women can’t hit it a long way or perform at the same level as men. We can’t in some ways but we can hit the ball like men do. As we have more mixed games I think more people are starting to realise that. They’re not shocked by it but some people are maybe surprised to see that women can perform to the same level.
How do you think we can we make golf seem more appealing to women?
We just need to make it more desirable. Michelle Wie wears stuff that you would never see out on the course, but she helps makes the game seem fun and fashionable. I don’t think it needs to be that extreme in the clubs, but we do need to make the game seem attractive to the younger girls, they are the future of golf after all.
People still think that golf is old fashioned and a sport that posh people play. When you see it on the TV it looks so much more desirable. We just need to take some of those things from the professional level to the club.
I met Charley Hull at a Your Golf Travel lady captain’s competition. She’s the perfect example; she’s young and she makes the game seem fun. She was lovely and accommodating. She was asking me where I used to play and she was really friendly.
You can follow Becki on Twitter @LCHHGC2016